The Durable and Powerful 1964 Mercury Comet

A bit of automotive history tells us that the Mercury Comet was supposed to be an entry level compact  Edsel. After the Edsel's non stellar performance, the Comet was reassigned to the Mercury line. From the very first the Comet was a success with sales of more than 100,000 vehicles it's first year. Second year sales were 185,000.

1964 mercury comet

1964 Mercury Comet

Mercury essentially had two types of automobiles for the 1964 model year. These were the full size Monterey, Montclair and Park Lanes and the compact Comet, although the 64 Comet was a bit larger than the generic compact. The Comet started to approach intermediate in size.

The Mercury Comet went through a few concept changes since it's inception in 1960. During that year the Mercury Comet came as either a sedan or station wagon. The Comet was a relative of the Ford Falcon. Both automobiles were designed at the same time. As car collectors are aware, the Ford Falcon chassis went on to become the underpinnings of the Ford Mustang. Because of it's relationship with the Falcon, the Comet was more compact than intermediate.

1964 comet

64 Comet

Changes to the 1964 Mercury Comet

At first the Mercury Comet was marketed as a compact and economical automobile. For the 1964 model year, the Comet model was redesigned with a sporty style. Also offered were more  V-8 engine options. The 64 Mercury Comets had power. New models for 1964 were the series 202, 404, Caliente and Cyclone. The Cyclone was Comet's performance model and replaced the previous S-22.

Body styles for 1964 included a two door coupe and convertible and a four door sedan and station wagon.

1964 mercury comet grille

64 Mercury Comet grille

Comet Gets a Boost from Competition Successes

The performance image for the Mercury Comet was aided greatly when a fleet of Comet Caliente hardtops averaged more than 105 mph for 100,000 miles in Daytona.

Customized drag racing Comet's with 427 cubic inch big blocks were also catching a lot of attention. After results of the endurance run were advertised, sales of the new Comets began to grow dramatically.  Mercury also competed in the East African Safari to solidify it's durability attributes.  The East African Safari was known as the most demanding rally with about 3,200 miles of the worst roads in the world. The Mercury Comet didn't win this rally but it certainly proved that it could take some of the most brutal punishment any car would ever encounter anywhere. The durability of the Mercury Comet was a given.

1964 Mercury Comet Specifications

The Mercury Comet came out in 1964 with two Inline Six engines, a 170 and 200 cubic inch, and two V-8's. These were a 260 and 289 cubic inch design. Horsepower on the sixes were 101 and 120 respectively and for the eights, 164 and 210.

Transmission choices were a three speed automatic or a four speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel self adjusting.

Front suspension was made up of an independent ball joint and coil springs. Rear suspension were longitudinal leaf springs.

1964 mercury comet tail lights

Comet tail lights

You may enjoy the related AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

1964 Ford Falcon Convertible

1963 Ford Falcon Ranchero

1965 Sunbeam Tiger MK-1

Dimensions included a wheelbase of 114.0 inches and an overall length of 195.1 inches. The car had a width of 71.4 inches and a height of 55.3 inches.

Mercury produced a total of 231,000 vehicles for the 1964 model year. Out of that number there were a total of 188,000 Comets built.

The Comets VIN should be found on the inside of the left fender.

Mercury Comet as Collector Cars

The Mercury Comet has a lot of history attached to it notably coming out at a time when the American automakers started to compete with compact cars. It's also notable that the vehicle at first was intended to be a compact Edsel.

mercury comet dashboard

64 Comet dashboard

Auction and asking prices for first and second generation Comets vary of course by model and condition, mileage plus degree of restoration. In the case of the 1964 Mercury Comet, the car represented the first of the second generation Comets and had a total redesign.

You may see an asking price range running from $7,000 to $30,000. The S-22's have some of the higher asking prices as do finely restored convertibles. The Cyclone produced in 1964 took the place of the S-22. The Comet S-22, which had been added along with the Custom models in 1963, had six bullet shaped tail lights and the regular Comets four oval lights. The 1964 Comets had six round taillights as shown in the photo above.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

1949 Mercury

Sales figures in 1949 for both Ford and Mercury broke records. The 1949 Mercury Eight was the first post World War Two design. The Mercury Eight was first introduced in 1939 and lasted until the 1951 model year.

1949 mercury

1949 Mercury Sedan

The new design introduced in 1949 would also last through the 1951 model year. The Mercury's new design for 1949 was truly new. The design was so well received that the 1950 Mercury models would see very little changes from the 1949 models.

Some other automobile post war designs were considered little different than the prewar models. The 1949 Mercury was different. Just about everything was changed when compared to the 1948 models. The Lincoln model of that year also came out with a clearly new design. All models of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lines came out with much more modernized designs in 1949.

Mercury's Place in the Ford Motor Company Line

Mercury was created to be positioned between the Fords and the Lincolns. The price gap between the highest priced Ford model and the lowest priced Lincoln model was large. The Mercury was meant to fill that large price gap.

1949 mercury sedan

Mercury new sleeker design for 1949

The marquee name was introduced in 1938 by Edsel Ford, Henry Ford I's son. The Mercury was also introduced in spite of the fact that Henry Ford didn't believe he needed a new brand.

The 1939 Mercury style was all new and didn't share any paneling with either Ford or Lincoln. In 1938 Mercury was set up as an entirely separate company as was Lincoln. This however changed in 1945 when the two were merged into Lincoln-Mercury. An interesting note is that the Mercury brand was an all new creation as opposed to the Lincoln brand which was acquired by Ford in 1922.

The Mercury was considered, at least by Ford Motor Company, an entry level luxury vehicle. Ford's goal was to have car buyers perceive the Mercury as a lower priced Lincoln rather than a higher priced Ford.

The price of the new 1949 Mercury ranged between $1,950 to $2,500. As a comparison, the 1949 Ford V-8 price averaged between $1,500 and $2,000. The 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan was priced around $4,000. You can easily see how the Mercury pricing filled a large void.

edsel ford

Edsel Ford, the founder of the Mercury brand

The Bathtub Generation

The 1949 Mercury shown in this article was the first of the 'bathtub" generation. The bathtub moniker was a result of the 1949's bulbous style. The photo of the trunk area in this article is a good example of this. The 1949 Mercury model came in a 2 and 4 door sedan, a convertible and a wagon.

1949 Mercury Specs

The 1949 Mercury came with a flat head V-8 engine. Specs were 255.4 cid with 110-112 HP. The wheelbase was 118.0 inches and the car's length was 207 inches.The 1949 Mercury's weight averaged 3,321 to 3,800 pounds.

1949 mercury sedan interior

View through rear window

Production figures for the 1949 model year sedan were 156,000. Coupe figures were 120,000 and the Mercury convertible about 17,000.

As a comparison, the 1948 model year sedan production totaled about 41,000 units. About 17,000 coupes were built and about 7,500 convertibles. It should be noted that the 1949 Mercury model came out in April of 1948 which adversely effected the 1948 figures.

Two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy are the 1953 Kaiser Dragon and the 1951 Hudson Hornet.

The Lead Sled

Some automobile models are turned into hot rods and others into "Lead Sleds." In a large way, the lead sled is also a hot rod of a somewhat different sort. Lead sleds are considered to be modified full size American cars usually from the 1950's.

1949 mercury rear view

Rounded rear trunk area

The 1949 Mercury is included in that category. The full size lead sled typically has the suspension altered and rides quite low. The word "lead" came from the fact that in modification lead was used as a body filler. This was prior to the introduction of "bondo." Bondo was introduced by 3M as a two part putty. The lead filler was used after the side moldings such as the door handles of the automobile to be modified were shaved off. The roof line was also lowered and the paint customized. The lead sled hot rod might have bright paint showing flames.

A Great Collector's Car

The entire 1949 through 1951 Mercury Eight models are popular collector's cars which hold their value well. The most popular model is the 1949 wagon. Some average auction sale prices on 1949 Mercury's as of this date are as follows. These are average sales prices. Sedan about $18,000...coupe about $29,000...convertible about $59,000 and the woody wagon about $66,000. As with all classic and vintage cars and trucks, the actual sales prices will vary a good amount depending on condition and extent of restoration.

(Photos from author's collection. Edsel Ford photo from the public domain)